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Maison Selby is a Tres Chic Tribute to Paris Bistros

Maison Selby Toronto

Solid Design brings Parisian je ne sais qoui to the Gooderham Mansion

By Bert Archer
Photography by Rick O'Brien

Solid Design Creative’s latest work – an Oliver & Bonacini spot in the 136-year-old Gooderham mansion on Sherbourne – belongs to what might be called the Easter Egg school of thought. Maison Selby is a tribute to the Montparnasse-era of Paris bistro, and its seven-year journey of restoration and renovation (guided by ERA Architects and Hunt Heritage) from budget hotel to mid-range restaurant has resulted in a treasure map of details that together make for a charming and cohesive whole.

Seating area at Toronto restaurant Maison Selby

With original residential walls still intact, the rooms flow into each other: bar-lounge to the right off the entrance, three dining rooms to the left. And amid the many original features are impeccable reproductions of 1883 forms cast in gypsum. The ridiculously detailed hinges on the doors that separate the four distinct dining rooms, and those floral light fixtures? These are facsimiles fashioned by some of the city’s finest metalsmiths and lighting designers. And the Impressionist painting in the main bar that looks like it’s on loan from the AGO? A closer look reveals Honest Ed’s-style lettering and two women with a selfie stick (artist Jahn Page calls the oil and acrylic canvas in a 250-year-old frame Maison Selfy).

Interiors room at Toronto restaurant Maison Selby

The Maison Selby menu has similar little treats, like steak tartare served with a cracked quail egg, or a Toronto cocktail made with Gooderham & Worts rye. But the biggest buried treasure of all is the Sous Sol, the bar genuinely hidden downstairs. There, you’ll find another playful Jahn Page, a mirrored ceiling with a Beaux Arts twist, and a bartender, Ali, who is as creative with mocktails as he is with cocktails.

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